On the global platform Bharat in 2017 was no more playing a second fiddle to big powers, but emerged as a major power to reckon with
Prof (Dr) Satish Kumar
The year 2017 was full of events in the world politics. While US President Donald Trump in America brought many changes in the world theatre, the Chinese adventure was being challenged, Pakistan struggled to find more friends in Islamic countries and East Asian countries tried to scale new lines of alliances.
But Modi’s foreign policy unraveled some new features. Once Stephen Cohen wrote a book India as an emerging power, many commentators started talking about Indian strength and its future role. Since 2000 to 2014, India remained a reluctant power, merely an ally and a balancer, not the real power. The year 2017 created the stage where India was categorised as a leading power. This is not merely on the basis of a 60-page document of NSS (National Security Strategy) of America where America called India a partner and a leading power. It has its strategic relevance but major initiatives of PM Modi made India a leading power. India weaved within its own region a strong India-centric approach. A couple of months ago India celebrated Bodhi Parva, a celebration of Buddhist heritage to mark the 20th anniversary of a Bay of Bengal Forum. It is known as
BIMSTEC. It clubs five South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Two South East nations Burma and Thailand were also included. Modi continued to focus and expand India’s extended neighbourhood approach. The meeting of 10 ASEAN countries was held in November. In the beginning of 2018, another meeting of ASEAN leaders is scheduled.
Obviously, the ties with America are narrating different world order. By the end of Obama’s term as a
president experts had started talking about a new world order which would be driven by China. The building of new alliances challenged the Chinese plan. The NSS says that the US “will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereignty as China increases its influence in the region. The NSS seeks to promote South Asian and Central Asian economic linkages, connectivity and trade. India appreciated the strategic importance given by the US to bilateral ties in its new National Security Strategy and said that the two countries share common objectives, including
Trump’s NSS paints India in a very different light: “We welcome India’s emergence as a leading
global power and stronger strategic and defence partner,” it proclaims and adds that the US will “support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region”. The NSS goes on to state, “We will expand our defence and security cooperation with India, a Major Defence Partner of the United States, and support India’s growing relationships throughout the region” and “We will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India.”
America also tried to discipline Pakistan. Trump said categorically “We will also work with the countries of the region, including Pakistan, to mitigate the threat from terrorism and to support a viable peace and reconciliation process to end the
violence in Afghanistan and improve regional stability.”
For instance, in August, when the US approved a $255-million aid package for Pakistan (provided nearly $33 billion since 2002), Trump said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond… We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added, “We’re going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area.” There will be a great relief for India if Pakistan is reined in fiscally by America.
PM Modi connected India to the world. First two years he visited many countries and invited many heads of state to India. In his third year, he focused more on cultural, digital and physical connectivity. India started pushing in for its due place in the world institutions. The recent victory in ICJ was a glaring example. These public articulations, combined with the nature, outcomes, and timings of Modi’s diplomatic activities, offer a clear picture of India’s priorities and strategic objectives. India’s focus on
connectivity is also gradually extending outward, whether to Chabahar in Iran or Kaladan in Myanmar. Although India will continue investing in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an institutional vehicle, it has also expressed a willingness to develop issue-specific groupings that are not held hostage to consensus. Two examples of this are the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping.
PM Modi is working on to bring many developing countries together which may work out for multipolarity. But it can be like NAM which brought more losses than laurels. India is part of many international organisations like the G-20, East Asia Summit, BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. If collecting all these countries
together India may create a new group to plant its feet more staunchly in the world politics.
For decades Maritime focus was missing out. The year 2017 has created new alliances. The Indo-pacific quad lateral alliances have many advantages. The Indo-Pacific is a major market route. For Asia, it turned to be the most important strategic route. Therefore, Indian venture in the Pacific will provide much relief and support.
(The writer is Head, Political Science, Central University, Hisar)